To see the full original newsletter with all the photos click here to get the pdf: April 2018 Newsletter
NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, April 10. We’ll have some of the hottest cuttings for sale. You can check them out early, but buying won’t commence until 7 PM and then continue again after our program. Devi says they’ll bring special varieties just for DSC members. Maybe you will bring some tubers for sale? Program: getting ready for our Tuber and Plant Sale. Who will bring treats to share???
FIRST GREEN! Pat and Devi debouched beautiful cuttings of cool varieties including KA’s Cloud, Nick Sr., Parkland Rave, Shea’s Rainbow, Hollyhill Pixie, Camano Pet, and Mexico. Imagine what they’ll bring in April. So much to look forward to. Devi warned that their cuttings have NOT been hardened off. She suggested taking them outside during the day time and bringing them back in during the night for a week and then finally leaving them outside. Deborah warned that precious cuttings were in jeopardy of becoming expensive salad; every slug, snail and earwig for miles would like to munch the new tender leaves. Corey’s special bait will work, but it could make pets or small children very sick. Sluggo Plus, horribly expensive as it is, works for all three of these greedy munchers without harming children, animals or bees. Paula says her copper rings thwart the slugs and snails quite effectively. Tinnee designed a gorgeous white-background poster you can DOWNLOAD to advertise our sale. Tony, Lola, and Paula brought tubers for sale. Deborah reiterated the difference between watering cuttings and tubers and grown milk carton plants. Tubers have NO roots: thus, do not water until they sprout and then very sparingly until they are established. Cuttings have hair thin wee rootitos; if these wisps dry out, they will not regenerate; so cuttings need some water every day, ideally a little in the morning and a little in the evening. Milk Cartoned dahlias have a full brick of roots; they can take a nice fulsome watering or even a rain storm. Deborah suggested five-gallon buckets over the top of clumps you’ve left in the ground. These big pots act as mini greenhouses heating up the very localized soil and also act as direct umbrellas during our spates of rain. Diana suggested Barrow Holland in Petaluma for specialized soil that you can plant in. Lyngso in the South Bay also has specialized planting soil.
GENEROSITY OF FRIENDS: Thanks to Lou, Pat and Devi for the gorgeous cuttings. They have been working since Christmas to make these for us. Please find time to individually thank them for their hours and hours of service to DSC. Thanks to Tony, Lola and Paula for their tubers. Digging, processing and labeling takes time. Their generosity keeps our dahlia society afloat. Thanks to Kathy for her amazing cookies which were so rich they should be called “a whole meal in one bite.” Gino and Devi also brought yummy cookies. Tenaya baked us an apple pie! How wonderful to see our Ron back again and bringing a huge box of Meyer Lemons for everyone. We missed you!
TUBER SALE: Saturday, April 14 is our BIG DAY. If you are helping with our sale, please arrive by 7:50. We need help laying out tubers, matching Devi’s pix to cultivars, labeling, schlepping and generally setting up. Please wear a dahlia shirt or a shirt with flowers or at least something colorful so the public will know you are a DSC member. Many of us like to wear aprons. Please bring your ADS Classification Book (purchasable on Sat.) Len suggests bringing a magnifying lens to identify eyes. I like to wear thin surgery gloves because some of the tubers are a bit grotty. Bring your most helpful attitude. It gets wild and hairy. Do concoct something delicious for our post-sale pot luck. The kitchen has a stove and a ‘fridge. Please send Tinnee’s lovely poster out to all your friends. Post it on social media. Ask your friends to repost it. We’re going to have over 1,000 glorious cuttings and it would be great to sell them all! We need to get the word out to many many many potential buyers. Pat has sent out over 1,500 emails; Deborah’s dispatched over 800. And you??? How many announcements have you sent out? Please bring your extra tubers or plants. We will sell unnamed tubers for $1 each. Please let Devi (firstname.lastname@example.org )know beforehand which cultivars you’ll be bringing so she can make photos for them. Remember that anything that comes into our auditorium is for sale; make all your swaps and gifting outside in the parking lot. Do take some snapshots of the action and share with Deborah for our newsletter.
Introducing Eden Lucinda and Eden Louise: Erik has done it again: he auctioned off naming rights for two of Lou’s newest introductions. “It’s like adopting a polar Bear at the zoo, except they eat less.
You can bring your namesakes home, give them to friends, and they’re safe around children and pets.” Lucinda Lee Katz was born in San Francisco, and has had a long career in education. She came from the Laboratory school of the University of Chicago to run Nick’s Marin Country Day School (MCDS) a dozen years ago, and is retiring this year–thus the honor. This Eden Lucinda flower will be featured on the program for her retirement party in June. This publicity might inspire others to donate or name flowers—we may need to up our naming prices! MCDS folks account for most of our nearly $30K of Park partner funds over the years, and we hope to resume seeing the 3rd graders this fall. Louise Patterson is the daughter-in-law of Anne Hyde Patterson, and also has been in education, and a trustee of MCDS and several other schools.
“The real hero of all this is, of course, Lou Paradise. I am just the broker/agent. Lou is not a publicity hound; nevertheless, we want to acknowledge his dahlia growing/hybridizing genius and his generous gesture.” In the past, Erik has auctioned off the rights to Anne Hyde and Eden Benary, both winning beauties. These two newest donations will pay for our meeting room rental for the entire year and the snazzy prize ribbons for our show. Wow!
THE NEW DSC GOOGLE GROUP
We now have a Google Group to allow members to communicate with each other. Useful for tuber trading, rides to meetings and other events, or just advice on dahlia growing.
To access the Google Group, go to
You will arrive on a page, showing a My Groups icon. Click on My Groups.
This will take you to a page that shows all the Google Groups you are in. Look for SFDahlias and click on that.
There is a red box on the top that says NEW TOPIC. Click on that and you can compose a message.
ROLL ON UP! Check out this heart-warming YouTube video of our Bob Papp. Every Wednesday at the Long Beach VA he enables wheelchair Vets the opportunity to garden. This clip depicts how to turn hay bales into the perfect raised dahlia beds.
HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW? Carl has laid out black plastic to keep the eucalyptus droppings off is soil and perhaps warm his dirt up a bit. He’s installed sturdy metal rebar stakes. Good Start! John P. has completely rebuilt his terraces facing the Bay anticipating a hillside of glorious color. Deborah continues to dig up her sophomore clumps at the Dell. Some of them are HUGE. They take hours to divide. Sue has already sunk her gopher cages awaiting cargo. Chad reports that he’s roto-tilled a lot of rice hulls, alfalfa pellets and chicken manure into his expanded dahlia kingdom. Devi has been successfully trapping gophers at Cabrillo Gardens with her trusty Victor Black Box trap from Home Depot. “The nice thing about it is that you don’t have to touch the dead critter to get it out. Just put it on the ground and release the spring and the gopher falls out so you can pick it up with a shovel to dispose of it,” comments Devi. She’s also put weed control covers and big buckets to protect last year’s stems from rain.
ACHIEVING APRIL: Finally, planting time!!! If you plan to use a drip system, get it in place BEFORE you plant. It’s awful to try to work around delicate dahlias; you always end up sacrificing a few. Horrible. Let’s talk Secret Sauce. Just like the fast food chains who claim that the secret to their uniquely delicious taste lies in an arcane formula of ingredients, all dahlia winners ascribe their success to what they put in the hole when they plant. When I plant my milk cartons, I dig a hole so that the first joint of my plant will be below ground level—4-8” depending. Initially, when planting my tubers in the milk carton, I dribble a little sulfur over it; others are now using cinnamon like this. It gives the tuber a little safety against subterranean terrorists. I add a teaspoon of granulated micorrhyizae and a balanced fertilizer (where all three numbers are the same such as 4-4-4 or 15-15-15). Other growers’ secret sauce employs bone meal, worm castings, alfalfa pellets, rice hulls, blood meal and/or green sand. I place the stake FIRST, BEFORE placing in the root mass so nothing is impaled. I adhere a label IMMEDIATELY. I like venetian blind strips with the writing in pencil. I find that Sharpies fade over the season and confound my memory in November. Lou, Sue, Devi and Pat create professional laminated labels which they can reuse. Keep track on a map or grid listing in case a raven runs off with your lovely tag. After a brief watering, I sprinkle Sluggo Plus so that my gorgeous dahlia plant doesn’t become expensive slug or earwig salad. Paula reuses her lovely copper rings each year. Bob Papp runs Hortonova parallel to the ground over his entire row at a height of 18.” Later he adds another sheet at 36.” I have seen the Clearview Parshalls up in Washington use this way of keeping their dahlias upright. It’s brilliant. Lou immediately sculpts a basin around the base of each of his plants so the water stays in place. To protect a gracile new dahlia, you might cut the top and bottom of a half gallon milk carton or a 60 liter soda bottle off to form a cylinder. Place this sleeve around your young dahlia like a mini stockade to protect it against the wind and elements for the first month. Here is a cool tool DJ made for me years ago: a sifting box. I ran all the dirt in my yard through this little box to a depth of one foot. I threw out rocks and junk. I use it when I’m dividing to catch the soil coming off the clump so I can determine the kinds of wildlife inhabiting my patch. It’s utterly invaluable.
Yours in dirt,
Layout and Webmaster: Devorah Joseph
Snail mail: Pat Hunter
Photo credits: Baker, Dietz, Joseph, Phan